Segments in this Video

Introduction: Blacks in White TV (04:20)


This four-part series explores the roles of African Americans in the white-controlled television industry. Racial stereotypes dominate their portrayal on TV. (Credits)

Perception of TV (04:03)

A TV guide survey found blacks are more dependent than whites on receiving news from television. Approximately 25% of all Americans feel an ethnic bias in reporting. Dr. J. Fred Macdonald traces the history of the medium in "Blacks and White TV: Afro-Americans in Television since 1948."

Early Television (04:37)

TV betters the condition of African Americans, but does not match performance with the potential to cure racism. After WWII, America wants to present itself as an unbiased country. "Beulah" and other programs rooted in Minstrel shows remain popular.

Evolution of Television (03:05)

ABC, CBS, and NBC bring racial stereotypes from radio into the new television format. The cancellation of the "The Nat King Cole Show" signals the end of unbiased programming. By the 1970 TV season, there are 19 programs with supporting cast or lead performers that are black.

Impact of Civil Rights Movement (03:35)

Audiences like Martin Luther King Jr because he is articulate, charismatic, and moderate; Malcolm X scares people. Richard Nixon becomes president because he stands for white America and moderation.

Current Phase of Television (02:40)

Flip Wilson returns to disparaging racial stereotypes. Minstrel shows come back to television. Gary Coleman's character on "Different Strokes" hearkens back to Buckwheat, Stymie, and Farina.

Heroes of the White Community (04:03)

Blacks appear in half of television programs but are frequently in insignificant roles. In "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle," a young white woman runs around Africa clad in a loincloth and appears to know more about the country than the Africans. America has a proclivity to see African Americans in racist imagery.

Credits: Blacks in White TV (00:43)

Credits: Blacks in White TV

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Blacks in White TV

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This program from Tony Brown's Journal features a discussion with Dr. Fred MacDonald and Hal Williams about whether or not the Black male lead is too strong for White-controlled television.

Length: 28 minutes

Item#: BVL167282

Copyright date: ©1982

Closed Captioned

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